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Chapter Twenty-five

\X7HEN Chang Chun became premier in April 1094, his axe fell
* * first upon Su Tungpo. Su was the first to be exiled across the
high mountain ridge in Kwangtung, a region known generally as
"beyond Tayuling" (mountain pass). He was dismissed from his
office, deprived of his official ranks and appointed magistrate at Ing-
chow (modern Kukong). He was not unaware of what was impend-
ing, but he did not realise yet how severe the second persecution was
going to be. He had felt danger near when he could not get per-
mission to see the Emperor in his formal leave-taking to go to hi$
new office at Tingchow upoa the Empress Dowager's death. He had
lectured the boy off and on for eight years and knew him well. A year
earlier he had said in a letter to the Emperor .rather bluntly thait if
he would not listen to the minister's advice Su would "prefer to be a
medicine-man or a fortune-teller" rather than remain at the court as
the Emperor's tutor.

Nevertheless, he had no real inkling of what was coming. The
degrading to the office oŁ a magistrate at Kukong did not imply any
special hardship. Chang Chun was one of his old friends. In their trip
to the mountains of Shensi in their young days, Su Tungpo had
jokingly said that Chang was capable of murder; but still, they were^
friends. He was not at all surprised at his dismissal from office. The
charges against him were the old ones that had been repeated again
and again. They were the charges of "slandering the deceased
emperor". The evidences were the various imperial edicts that he had
drafted during the regency for the dismissal of Wang Anshih's party
men. This "slander of the deceased emperor" was now the stock phrase
used against all the Yuanyu officials. It did not matter that in drafting
the edicts Su Tungpo had been taking orders from the Empress
Dowager. The edict of dismissal said:

."I would not mind if Su Shih's criticism were directed against
myselfc But in my name, he slandered my imperial father. He tried
to break the relationship between father and son and violated the
rules of propriety between ruler and subject. A common citizen
would regard any slanderer of his parent as & mortal enemy. How
am I as Emperor to face my people if I allow such insults to go by?
You, Su Shih, are clever with your pen and your tongue. But you